Saturday, July 30, 2011

US cannot say how many had communications watched


WASHINGTON (AP) — Like its predecessor, the Obama administration says it cannot count how many people in the U.S. have had their telephone calls and emails monitored by government agents in national security investigations under federal surveillance law.

The national intelligence office said in a letter this week to two Senate Democrats that it was "not reasonably possible to identify the number."

The senators, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, worry that the government may be monitoring communications of law-abiding citizens with inadequate justification.

"We're not asking these questions to embarrass the administration or make the intelligence community's job more difficult," Wyden said in a statement Thursday. "Congress needs to know if the laws it writes are being interpreted and implemented as intended before it is asked to extend them, and failing to assure the public that government agencies aren't violating the rights of law-abiding Americans erodes public confidence and makes it harder for intelligence agencies to do their jobs."


ZeuS Trojan for Google Android Spotted

Criminals have developed a component of the ZeuS Trojan designed to run on Google Android phones. The new strain of malware comes as security experts are warning about the threat from mobile malware that may use tainted ads and drive-by downloads.

Researchers at Fortinet said the malicious file is a new version of “Zitmo,” a family of mobile malware first spotted last year that stands for “ZeuS in the mobile.” The Zitmo variant, disguised as a security application, is designed to intercept the one-time passcodes that banks send to mobile users as an added security feature. It masquerades as a component of Rapport, a banking activation application from Trusteer. Once installed, the malware lies in wait for incoming text messages, and forwards them to a remote Web server.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Flying Drone Can Crack Wi-Fi Networks, Snoop On Cell Phones

How do one ex-Air Force official and one former airplane hobby shop owner, both of whom happen to have decades of experience as network security contractors for the military, spend their weekends? Building a flying, unmanned, automated password-cracking, Wi-Fi-sniffing, cell-phone eavesdropping spy drone, of course.

At the Black Hat and Defcon security conferences in Las Vegas next week, Mike Tassey and Richard Perkins plan to show the crowd of hackers a year’s worth of progress on their Wireless Aerial Surveillace Platform, or WASP, the second year Tassey and Perkins have displayed the 14-pound, six-foot long, six-foot wingspan unmanned aerial vehicle. The WASP, built from a retired Army target drone converted from a gasoline engine to electric batteries, is equipped with an HD camera, a cigarette-pack sized on-board Linux computer packed with network-hacking tools including the BackTrack testing toolset and a custom-built 340 million word dictionary for brute-force guessing of passwords, and eleven antennae.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hidden video cameras found in apartment

A couple of tenants said they recently discovered hidden video cameras inside their Hillsborough County apartment.

"We understand that we have camera everywhere. In the bathroom, in our room," said tenant Vanya Samokovareva. "They looks like smoke detectors."

Samokovareva, 22, and her roommate, Ralitsa Dzhambazova, 23, are from Bulgaria. The women said they came to Tampa in May through a work-travel program.

"This is terrible. I never expect that this thing can happen to me or my friend," said Dzhambazova. "We just came here to spend one summer in the United States, to work here."

The tenants said they've been renting the Westchase area apartment for about two months and found the hidden video cameras last weekend. Samokovareva said they taped a piece of paper to block the view of the camera in their bathroom, aimed right at the shower.

"The bathroom and your room, this is the private place and you make, in the bathroom you take a shower, you make everything," she said. "This is, I'm sure that if there is a camera, this is the idea to show us somewhere naked and to show what we make in the bathroom."

The tenants said they followed the cables from the hidden camera in their bedroom underneath the carpet to a locked up closet. They broke the lock off and said they found that all the cameras were feeding into a closed circuit TV box connected to a Wi-Fi router.


The Last Bugs of the Nixon White House

One morning in early March 1971, Army counterintelligence agent Dave Mann was going through the overnight files when his eyes landed on something unexpected: a report that a routine, nighttime sweep for bugs along the Pentagon’s power-packed E-Ring had found unexplained – and unencrypted — signals emanating from offices in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Someone, it seemed, was eavesdropping on the top brass.

Mann was no stranger to bugs. It was a busy time for eavesdroppers and bug-finders, starting with the constant Spy vs. Spy games with Russian spies. But the Nixon years, he and everyone else would soon discover, had extended such clandestine ops into new territory: bugging not just the Democrats, but people within its own ranks. Eventually, most of the Watergate-era eavesdropping schemes were revealed to the public, including the bombshell that Nixon was bugging himself. But the bugs Dave Mann discovered in the E-Ring in March 1971 — and another batch like it — have remained buried all these years. Until now.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lock down your cellphone
Hacking into cellphones is “quite easy”, say local spyware specialists, and it has been commonplace around the world since the technology first came into circulation.

What makes it easy is the fact that few cellphone users bother to set the special PIN codes to allow them to use securely the special feature of accessing their messages from another phone. This means their cellphones remain on the service provider’s default settings – well known to all in the business.

And the user is left vulnerable to hackers such as Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the centre of the UK’s News of the World phone hacking scandal.

But even in cases where the four-digit message default setting has been changed, private investigators say it is relatively easy to access – as long as you have a connection placed inside the particular service provider, or the gift of the “blag” – see sidebar.

Acting on behalf of the tabloid newspaper, Mulcaire – in search of a scoop for his employers – is alleged to have invaded the privacy of not only politicians and celebrities, but also, post-mortem, murdered teenager Milly Dowler and UK soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan and other theatres of war.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Former Akamai employee in Mass. to plead guilty to economic espionage

BOSTON — A former employee of a website content delivery company has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of foreign economic espionage for providing company trade secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Elliot Doxer, 42, will admit to providing trade secrets from Cambridge-based Akamai Technologies Inc. over an 18-month period to the agent, whom he believed was an Israeli spy, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts said in a statement. A plea hearing is scheduled for Aug. 29.

Doxer’s attorney, Thomas J. Butters, did not return messages left after business hours Thursday.

Doxer, of Brookline, worked in Akamai’s finance department at the time he committed the alleged offenses. Prosecutors said he sent an email to the Israeli consulate in June 2006 and offered to provide any information he had access to in order to help that country in exchange for $3,000. Doxer said his main goal was “to help our homeland and our war against our enemies,” prosecutors said.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rental Firms May be Allowed to Spy on Customers With Webcams
"Error: my sensor is dirty. Please take me in a steamy area... such as your shower."

Some may recall that back in May news broke of an Aaron's Inc. (AAN) franchisee remotely spying on users with a webcam to make sure they were making payments. The incident led to one outraged couple filing suit against the company, seeking class action status.

Unfortunately for that couple -- Crystal and Brian Byrd -- there case was dealt a serious setback by Judge Sean Mclaughlin, a judge with the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Erie District).

In his ruling [Google Docs], the judge refused to grant a preliminary injunction, which would have banned Aaron's and its franchisees from both continuing to monitor users with the "PC Rental Agent" remote webcam spykit and from conducting activities to obfuscate which computers had the spykit installed.

In denying the injunction, Judge Mclaughlin opens the door to continued monitoring of users, and to the company disguising how many users it monitors.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rebekah Brooks Arrested for Cellphone Hacking, Bribery
Rebekah Brooks, who was in charge of Rupert Murdoch’s vast media empire in the UK, was arrested Sunday on allegations of cellphone hacking and paying off corrupt cops for information.

She’s the highest official of News Corp. to be arrested so far. According to The Washington Post, she was arrested for “conspiring to intercept communications and on corruption allegations.”

Brooks had resigned her position on Friday as chief executive of News International, according to The Telegraph. She is alleged to have authorized electronic eavesdropping of the cellphones of hundreds of unknowing victims, tapping into the voicemail of a 13-year-old murder victim, and intercepting phone calls of numerous politicians and scores of celebrities.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hacking, tapping and spying - business as usual

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) - The skullduggery by the News of the World newspaper in Britain exposed an underbelly of phone taps and lies.

While the fall of the newspaper and the shenanigans of the Murdoch business empire are a compelling and continuing drama, we should be reminded that this sort of behavior is not limited to the tabloid muckraking press.

Underhand tactics, secrets and illegal tampering with private information is a growing and common problem in the corporate world. Call it what you may - industrial espionage, corporate hacking, commercial spying - the practice is widespread and deeply entrenched on a global scale.

In Africa, the practice of stealing or secretly accessing information about another company –­ more than likely in competition with yours – is not as widespread as it is in Europe, America and Asia. However, here in South Africa the practice of corporate spookery is “massive” and “rife,” according to a security expert working for a global bank.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hacker’s App Automates Over-The-Shoulder iPad Spying
Shoulder surfing, the simple act of leering over a computer users’ shoulder to spy on passwords and other sensitive info, may not seem like the most advanced hacker trick. But when it comes to shoulder surfing Apple’s iPad, Haroon Meer has it down to a science.

Earlier this week, the South African security researcher announced that he’d built shoulderPad, an app for Mac OS, jailbroken iPhones and iPads that’s designed to auto-snoop on iPad users’ passwords by watching their touchscreen keyboards. Simply pretend to be fiddling with your phone or tablet a few meters away from an iPad user while he or she enters their PIN or password, and shoulderPad can uses your device’s camera to read and interpret the target’s keystrokes.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Espionage: Russia's traitor is CIA's mascot
The CIA isn’t supposed to brag about its successes, but it can take great pride in a Russian military court’s decision to sentence Aleksandr Poteyev in absentia to 25 years in prison. Poteyev, a former colonel in Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, tipped off the CIA in 1999 about 10 Russian sleeper agents who were planted in Cambridge, New York City, and northern Virginia to imitate plain-vanilla Americans and harvest information about US policy and weapons.

Thanks to the tip from double agent Poteyev, the FBI had the Russian sleeper operatives under surveillance from the start. “As a result,’’ a Russian military judge explained last week, “their work yielded few results.’’ The judge clearly made this observation to castigate a traitor and justify his harsh sentence. But he also made it clear why the 10 Russian agents rounded up last year were not charged with espionage in the United States. As it turns out, their trackers never let them get in position to acquire classified information.